What New Information Surprised You?

I’m staying at a lovely hotel this week, speaking at a conference. For me, the bed is comfortable except for the pillows. The feather pillows scrunch down where my head is and raise up around my ears. I don’t feel the benefit of a raised head.

I asked for foam pillows. The lovely housekeeping person brought me two foam pillows, and then she did something that surprised me: she put both pillows into one pillowcase.

Some of you might laugh at this—you do this all the time. It never occurred to me.

Two pillows in one pillowcase == new and surprising information.

It got me thinking—what else is new and surprising information to you, to me, to anyone?

One of the things I love about going to conferences is meeting people and hearing their stories. Yes, I learn new possibilities from the talks, and these days, I find it’s the people who surprise me the most.

Everyone has a unique situation. Everyone works on different products. Each person works in an organization, with its own unique culture. Each person has their own origin story. As these people explain their situations, I learn new and surprising information.

Sometimes, I marvel at how alike we can be when we are all so different. (Maybe that’s a different post.)

When I give my talks, I try to inject some humor. Sometimes, I succeed, and people laugh at my wry comments. Sometimes, I have to say, “That was the joke part.” The way people react is new information, and sometimes surprising to me.

In my experience, if I can use humor in some way, I can help people absorb new and surprising information. The humor might be the foreign element. The surprise is the possible transforming idea. (See the Process or Outcome post for more information on the Satir Change Model.)

I’m not always open to new and surprising information. I have my experiences, and many of them lead me to act or think in one specific way. When I encounter new information in direct opposition to my experience, I’m skeptical. How could that possibly work?

When the outcome risk is low, such as with my pillows, I’m more open to possibilities. When the outcome risk is high, I might not be so open.

That makes me human.

I continue to seek out new information. Not just to confirm my beliefs, but also to continue to learn. I learn from all these people with their unique experiences. And, every so often, I encounter new and surprising information which helps me consider changes.

I now have a new approach for hotels with lumpy-for-me pillows: two pillows in one pillowcase. I’m delighted with that new and surprising information. I have more chances to be adaptable in my travels.

That is the question this week: What new information surprised you?

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